August 1, 2021

The “critical theory of race”, the Republicans’ new scarecrow in the “culture war” in the United States

LETTER FROM SAN FRANCISCO

Six months after leaving the White House, US conservatives have straddled a new hobbyhorse in their “cultural” war against Democrats (and anyone who doesn’t think multiculturalism is the first step to decadence). Forget the campaign against Sharia law (the obsession of 2010, when Republicans believed Islamic law was creeping into American jurisprudence); the “war on Christmas” (every year, when the liberals insult Christianity by favoring the expression “happy holidays”); forget the “migrant caravans” sweeping over the border (in 2018). And even the “election theft”, so 2020…

With the midterm elections approaching in 2022, this is the “Critical theory of race”, a concept which dates back to the 1980s and had not gone beyond academic circles, but which is now so widespread that it is only described by its acronym: CRT, for « Critical Race Theory ».

The “theory” assumes that racism is at the root of the American Republic and that a number of laws, decisions and policies perpetuate it, even if they are apparently neutral or fair. The concept emerged in the 1980s, when a team of legal scholars questioned why inequalities persisted after the United States solemnly embraced civil rights in 1964. After George Floyd’s death, this reading spread. under the expression “Systemic racism”. To the fear of the conservatives, the formula was adopted in the most diverse circles: companies, advertising agencies, medical academies, sports clubs, etc.

Generals accused of being “woke”

It is this “systemic” vision that the Republicans consider urgent – and electorally promising – to counter-square. According to The Washington Post, Fox News mentioned the term “CRT” 1,860 times in 2021, including 408 since early June. Back on the stands, Saturday, June 26 in Wellington (Ohio), Donald Trump did not fail to warn against the phenomenon. “We need a republican congress that bans the CRT”, he pleaded. Before attacking the military. “Did you see these generals on TV like they’re ‘woke’?” ”

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